The chocolate factory of happiness

Maestrani

For more than 160 years, the Maestrani Schweizer Schokoladen AG in Flawil in the canton of St. Gallen, Switzerland, has dedicated itself to a special kind of pleasure: chocolate.

Day by day, passionate chocolate makers create sweet temptations for adults and children alike.

The exact recipes of the various types are passed down from generation to generation and are one of the best-guarded secrets of the company. In April 2017, Maestrani’s Chocolarium was opened right next to the headquarters: a spectacular visitor centre-cum-world of discovery with unique architectural features and the eastern Swiss “Chocolate Factory of Happiness,” covering an area of approx. 2,000 m².

An attractive interactive tour that not only indulges the senses but also conveys knowledge and emotion helps to familiarise both children and adults with the exciting procedure that is chocolate-making. The experience starts with a film, continues into the room of ingredients, and eventually takes the visitors to the magical gates of happiness. Chocolate casting and baking courses, a new show, and a café complete the tour. The sheltered yard with its two tiered terraces invite visitors to linger.

The new two-storey frame construction building was provided ready-to-use by Rubner Objektbau, forming the attractive street front of the Chocolarium.

It houses the entrance area, foyer, cash points, shop, and restaurant. The event rooms and administrative offices of the company are upstairs.

The roof and glulam ceilings are supported by steel-reinforced circular glulam columns.

The building’s striking exterior envelope made of Kerto laminated veneer timber elements suspended vertically and arranged in wave-like structures impressively symbolises the flow of chocolate.

An almost 50-metre-long skywalk, a two-part timber-framed glulam bridge between the factory and the new building, concludes the tour.

Even back in 1852, one thing was clear to Aquilino Maestrani, the founder of the company: “Anyone who sees the world through the eyes of a chocolate lover will see true beauty and happiness.”

Maestrani’s Chocolarium shows visitors, tongue firmly in cheek and appealing to all senses, why chocolate makes us happy. They can experience this happiness: feel it, hear it, look at it, taste it, and smell it – and see how it ends up in the chocolate. The imaginatively decorated exhibition rooms receive the visitors with wide open arms and envelop them in a flood of colour and experience, of chocolate and happiness. Was that chocolate dripping on my head? And is this what being wrapped in gold foil feels like?

- Rubner Objektbau -

 

Project details

Contractor Maestrani Schweizer Schokoladen AG, Flawill CH

Location Flawill CH

Architecture KE Architects, Zurich CH

Construction time 11 months turnkey – 72 days for timber structure assembly

Completion February 2017